March 12, 2014, Gerald Mahoney, saddled up and rode over the last ridge and into the sunset. His work here was done and the Trail Boss called him to ride herd up yonder. The cowpunchers down here will miss him as he dang sure carried his weight and most times outworked the crowd of us. But we are better human beings because of knowing and working with him.
He was a heck of a cowboy and there weren’t nary a bronc that he couldn’t fan. He was a gifted horseman and trained many horses during his life. Many of the horses that he sought out were the most difficult older spoiled nags. He felt especially accomplished if he could get them to the point where the kids could ride them. There wasn’t a critter who would dare to act up once they came upon Gerald. There were few things he enjoyed more than saddling up and heading out into nature. It was not uncommon for him to be gone riding until late in the night. On some nights, you might find a snoozing cowboy in his sleeping bag under the stars on a favorite hill overlooking Red Canyon. He could work cattle with the best hands. He had a commercial cow/calf operation, raised registered salers, and pastured yearlings on and off throughout the years.
He had a work ethic that put most of us to shame. Starting with a past due mortgaged piece of ground south of Alva he turned it into a fine ranch that the whole family can be proud of. This he did with the help of loved ones and the sweat of his brow. Often he worked more than one job – he skidded logs with a team, cut trees, broke horses, worked a mail route, day worked and whatever was necessary to pay the bills. He was a testament to what goal setting and hard work can get a fellow.
Gerald was an avid hunter. He and Betsy started taking hunters at the ranch 50 years ago this November building lifelong friends and acquaintances from across the country. This tradition lives on as the ranch welcomes many of the same hunters today that started coming years ago. He was a crack shot with his 6 mm rifle and he enjoyed hunting deer and elk.
Gerald was a gifted, self-taught engineer. He imagined and built several great inventions. His best known invention was a tire cutter that would recycle mining equipment tires into water troughs for cattle. This invention he developed and turned into a business that now spans the United States and has grown to include some influence in Canada and Brazil. All across the United States, one can catch glimpses of his legacy in the form of the durable water troughs dotting the landscape. His self-leveling post pounder was another invention that helped to make our work easier. All his inventions were born of need out of the work that he loved and did at the ranch.
He was born April 26, 1935, to Jay Smith Mahoney and Lorene Gray Mahoney. He was the second of five children born to that union. He attended school at the Lame Jones School that sits on the ranch. It was the end of the depression and times were hard. He learned that to survive he would have to struggle and work. And work he did! He started running the ranch in 1952, at the age of 17, with a little help from neighbors, Allen Rauth and Carl Nilson. Gerald married Jane Page on June 5, 1955. On September 29, 1961, he married Betsy Owen. They made their home on the original homestead where Gerald’s grandfather homesteaded. This became the headquarters for the Diamond Seven Bar Ranch, where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average. They raised three children Beth Ann, William Gerald, and Vic Lee while operating the family ranch. In June 5, 2004, he married Leah Winieckie and they resided at the ranch until 2009 when they moved to Spearfish to be closer to medical services and Leah’s family. He lived in their home until a fall in early 2013 made it necessary for him to be in a care facility. Leah was Gerald’s caregiver and constant companion through his final days.
Grateful for sharing in Gerald’s life are his wife, Leah Mahoney of Spearfish, South Dakota; daughter, Beth Ann (Pat) Reilly of Alva, Wyoming; sons, William Gerald (Susan) Mahoney of Georgetown, Kentucky, and Vic Lee (Rachel) Mahoney of Lexington, Kentucky; grandchildren, Samuel Reilly, Isaac Mahoney, Caleb Mahoney, Molly Mahoney and Meaghan Mahoney; step-son, Bernard (Janet) Winieckie of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, and step-daughter, Cheryl (Doug) Brown of Cheyenne, Wyoming; six step-grandchildren and fourteen step-great grandchildren; brothers, Allen (Janice) Mahoney of Newcastle, Wyoming; his sister, Barbara (Bob) VanEvery of Newcastle.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jay and Lorene Mahoney; brothers, Leon Mahoney and Hiram Mahoney.
Funeral services were Tuesday, March 18 at the Greater Hulett Community Center in Hulett, Wyoming, with the Reverend Jim Palus officiating. Interment followed at the Alva Cemetery.
An online guest book is available at www.klinefuneralchapel.com.